Hypotension: Low Blood Pressure

Prevailing medical opinion is that normal resting blood pressure should be about 120/80 mmHg (systolic/diastolic).Upwards from that puts you in prehypertension or stages of hypertension.

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Abnormally low blood pressure, or hypotension, would be a systolic reading lower than 90 and a diastolic reading of less than 60. Low blood pressure is usually not a concern unless it is accompanied by symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

RISK FACTORS

  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Alcohol
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Blood loss
  • Cardiovascular dysfunctions
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Heat exposure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Inactivity, prolonged
  • Infection
  • Medications
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Pregnancy

PREVALENCE

According to PubMed, “true prevalence of low blood pressure in the normal population has not been defined.” They do report that those with chronic constitutional hypotension are more likely to have smaller muscle mass accompanied by a low-risk cardiovascular profile.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

After undergoing a series of tests, your doctor would prescribe treatment dependent on the underlying condition. The doctor may prescribe medications to constrict the blood vessels but also may advise you to make diet changes, use more salt, increase water consumption or wear elastic stockings to reduce the pooling of blood. If you have an underlying symptom, like adrenal insufficiency, treatment would be appropriate for that condition.

SELF TREATMENT

If you are having symptoms, you should consult a medical professional. If you have low blood pressure without symptoms and would like to raise the pressure, there are some self-care suggestions below.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and disorder. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT MAY BENEFIT HYPOTENSION

  • Caffeine can raise blood pressure temporarily but should not be used as a long-term solution.
  • Low-carbohydrate foods, nutrient-dense
  • Probiotic foods
  • Raisins

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE

  • Alcohol
  • Pastas
  • Pastries and baked goods
  • Potatoes
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Rice

HERBS, HERBAL TEAS AND SPICES

  • Aniseed (can raise blood pressure but can have many harmful side effects if taken in quantities greater than normal food flavoring)
  • Bitter orange (may also raise heart rate)
  • Calamus root promotes circulation.
  • Hawthorn berry (for both high and low pressure)
  • Lavender (said to be a regulator so good for either high or low pressure)
  • Licorice (may also lead to low potassium levels)
  • Yohimbe (may increase heart rate and too much will lower pressure rather than raise it)

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.

  • Cypress
  • Geranium
  • Holy basil
  • Hyssop in small doses (large doses could lead to seizure or elevated blood pressure)
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12

HYDRATION

Dehydration can cause low blood pressure. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Regular exercise helps to regulate blood flow so try to exercise a moderately every day. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

SLEEP

Blood pressure decreases during sleep so if it is very low when you are awake, it can become dangerously low when you are sleeping. With people who are hypotensive, it may be that waking up in the night is a survival response triggered by deficient cerebral blood flow. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1866393

Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of disease-fighting antibodies. If you wake in the morning after 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep feeling unrested, you aren’t getting enough sleep or you have an underlying health condition.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

It may seem like someone with low blood pressure would be calm and unexcitable, but stress can lead to conditions that will lower blood pressure, such as adrenal insufficiency, or it can be a result of medications used to treat stress-related conditions, like depression. Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Deep breathing exercises, especially on waking
  • Elevate slightly the head of your bed.
  • Eat small meals frequently.
  • Avoid hot showers, spas and saunas.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

  • Apple Cider Vinegar and Blackstrap molasses both are mentioned as treatments for hypotension AND hypertension. We could not find study results for hypotension use and the results for use in hypertension were inconclusive.
  • Cinnamon supplements may lower blood pressure.
  • Get medical help if you have any sudden significant drops in pressure.
  • Ginger may lower blood pressure; avoid ginger supplements.
  • In some studies, Ginseng has been shown to lower blood pressure and in other studies, to raise it. It is sometimes recommended online for hypotension and an NCBI review reports success with low-dose ginseng to treat those undergoing hemodialysis, but proceed with caution.
  • Pepper may lower blood pressure.
  • Extreme hypotension would be evidenced by the following symptoms, which would indicate a state of shock; call a doctor immediately:
  • Cold, pale skin
  • Confusion
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
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